Concrete is widely considered to be one of the most durable and long-lasting building materials used today, and throughout history. In fact, concrete was used extensively by the Romans from 300 BC to 476 AD and even remnants of concrete floors, which were made of lime and pebbles, have been discovered in Greece that dates back to roughly 1300 BC. Various materials have been used as concrete additives throughout these times, such as volcanic ash, horsehair, and even blood.

However, though concrete stands up well to the test of time, it will eventually show signs of aging and may need to be repaired to ensure its integrity.

In today’s blog post, we’ll outline the most common factors that cause concrete damage as well as some tell-tale signs that your concrete is old and needs to be repaired or replaced.

What Causes Concrete Damage?

The usage of concrete worldwide is more than double that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminum combined—but it’s not immune to degradation. There are a number of factors that can cause damage to concrete, including

  • The expansion of corrosion products (reinforcement bars)
  • The freezing of trapped water
  • A fire or radiant heat
  • Aggregate expansion
  • Seawater effects
  • Bacterial corrosion
  • Erosion by fast-flowing water
  • Physical damage
  • Chemical damage

Signs that Your Concrete is Aging

So, how can you tell if your concrete floor is being punished by any number of the above factors? Take a look at some of the revealing signs that your concrete is aging:

  • Growing cracks: Small cracks tend to spread and become large cracks over time. Neglecting a crack creates a safety risk of tripping over displaced chunks of floor, not to mention, if a floor crack reaches the walls the building’s structural integrity can be compromised. Additionally, water and moisture can become trapped in cracks producing a breeding ground for bacteria, eventually compromising air quality.
  • Spalling: Spalling refers to flat fragments of concrete detaching from the main structure—usually caused by the expansion of iron oxides within the steel reinforcement structures or the sudden exposure to very high temperatures.
  • A crack pattern: Typical crack patterns are caused by aggregates within the concrete undergoing chemical reactions. The most common are those containing reactive silica—which causes a reaction when water is combined with the alkalis in concrete.
  • Moisture Test: Not sure if your concrete was sealed properly? Perform a moisture test by taping an 18” square of plastic to the floor, and then leaving the space. After a few days, return to the plastic square and see if any moisture has beaded on the bottom of the plastic. This method cannot measure the severity of moisture—only if moisture is present. To dive in deeper, turn to calcium chloride tests. These will give you a much more accurate reading of how much moisture is in the floor on a given day, and will also provide you with proof that a floor was not sealed properly.

Ensure a Rock Solid Foundation

Whether you’re a Portland homeowner with a cracked garage floor or a business owner with concerns about your warehouse or office floor—we can help. At Rock Solid, our trained professionals can patch foundation cracks and seal and waterproof the entire floor surface so you won’t have to worry about it any longer.

We also have a variety of refinishing for both interior and exterior concrete applications. Take a look at a few of our services below: